We live in a free country, the United States of America. One of the cornerstones of our beliefs as a people is free speech. We speak without fear of being gunned down in the streets because of our political or religious views. But in other countries, free speech may mean death. In March, Shahbaz Bhatti’s bullet-riddled body lay in the streets of Islamabad. Bhatti was assassinated because he spoke out against a blasphemy law in the Muslim country of Pakistan. The blasphemy law in Pakistan outlaws speech against Islam or for Christianity. Bhatti clearly stated his campaign against the Sharia blasphemy law. [Quote] “I speak for persecuted minorities…Taliban threats cannot change my opinion and principles.” [End Quote]
Days before his murder, Bhatti took his message to You Tube. Bhatti prophesied his own death, [Quote] “I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ who has given his own life for us. I know the meaning of the cross and I follow him on the cross.” [End Quote] National Public Radio reported that Bhatti was the only Christian politician in the Punjab Province. According to NPR the Taliban gunmen left a number of pamphlets on the ground. The pamphlets said Mr. Bhatti was a Christian infidel. He had dared to challenge the country’s blasphemy laws and would now be sent to hell.
Mr. Bhatti was an outspoken defender of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother of five. She had been sentenced to death last November for the crime of blasphemy after she publicly defended her Christian faith. Soon after Bibi’s death sentence was carried out, the governor of the Punjab Province was also killed. The governor too had spoken against Bibi’s murder. The NPR reporter concluded that other people who normally speak out on public issues are now retracting from public life. As they see it, even the government can’t protect itself.
Listening to the radio report in my car, my response to the martyrdom of Mr. Bhatti swung between rage and gratitude. Many of you listening to my voice may share the righteous anger I feel toward those who would kill someone for simply speaking their mind. But the pendulum of my response also swings toward gratitude. I am grateful for people like Mr. Bhatti who will defend others’ right to express their beliefs, even if it means death. In America, we defend the rights of people to air their views, even if we disagree. In America, our soldiers fight against tyrannical rulers to defend those in other countries who cannot defend themselves. And, in America, no matter your religious views, free speech means life. For Moody Radio, this is Dr. Mark Eckel, personally seeing truth wherever it’s found.
This blog represents freedom and the fight against tyranny. Moody Radio will air this audio-blog in the summer of 2011.